Opening for Joyce but Strauss backs Trescothick

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The Independent Online

England are set to overlook Marcus Trescothick for this afternoon's day-night encounter against Pakistan but Andrew Strauss, his captain and opening partner, believes that he will make a full recovery from the stress-related illness that is afflicting his career.

Despite making himself unavailable for next month's Champions Trophy, Tresco-thick was still to be found practising hard at Trent Bridge yesterday. But his decision means that there is little point in England playing him in the final two matches against Pakistan.

Sympathy goes out to Trescothick but the timing of the announcement still rankles. Surely the England and Wales Cricket Board should have been aware that one of their most valuable employees was undergoing a course of treatment like this, and that it would coincide with the Champions Trophy. Yet Trescothick's decision appears to have caught the selectors totally by surprise.

"There is a chance he won't play," said Strauss. "With India in mind it would make sense to give a new opener a chance. The other side of the argument is that Marcus is a very experienced player and we want to win every game we play."

The absence of Trescothick would give Ed Joyce the chance to push for a Champions Trophy place. In June, Joyce made 10 in a one-dayer against Ireland, the country of his birth, before injuring his ankle in the Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka at Southampton. The fall kept the 27-year-old out for six weeks but the elegant left- hander has scored heavily in four-day cricket even though his limited-over form has wavered.

If the selectors feel he is no longer suited to batting at the top of the order, Alastair Cook may be given a chance.

Yet Strauss feels it will not be long before either makes way for a fit Trescothick. "It is obviously something he is working through," he said. "But there is light at the end of the tunnel and there is no reason to expect him not to go on and play a full part in the Ashes and beyond. At the moment he needs to keep working on it and I think he is improving day by day.

"We have talked about it but it is very much a personal thing. There are issues that he needs to work through with the people who are helping him and there is not a huge amount, in that respect, that his team-mates can do to help him. Australia will be a big test for all of us and it will be a big test for Marcus as well. But he hasn't got where he has in his career without being able to overcome tests."

Before selecting their Ashes squad, the selectors need to assess whether Trescothick's problems are likely to affect his performances. He scored 106 in his first Test innings of the season, but averaged 19.7 for the rest of the summer.

He has had technical problems this season. When playing shots, his weight has been on the back foot, a fault that may creep in to a player's game when he is apprehensive. Only he will know whether this is related to the issues he has.

England will consider giving Graham Onions his international debut ahead of Sajid Mahmood and Michael Yardy could replace Rikki Clarke. Pakistan will once again be unchanged.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, will find out whether he is found guilty of ball-tampering and bringing the game in to disrepute in a hearingin London on 27-28 September.

England (from): AJ Strauss (Middlesex, capt), EC Joyce (Middlesex), IR Bell (Warwickshire), KP Pietersen (Hampshire), PD Collingwood (Durham), JWM Dalrymple (Middlesex), R Clarke (Surrey), CMW Read (Nottinghamshire, wkt), SI Mahmood (Lancashire), J Lewis (Gloucestershire), SCJ Broad (Leicestershire), AN Cook (Essex), MH Yardy (Sussex), G Onions (Durham), ME Trescothick (Somerset).

Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal (wkt), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul.

Umpires: DJ Harper (Aus) & MR Benson.